Bonnie Barton digs up a clump of the native crane-fly orchid behind the dog park in Brook Run Park Saturday morning. The orchids are in the path of the multi-use trail the city is building in Brook Run Park.

Dunwoody gardener Bonnie Barton is leading an effort to rescue wildflowers and other native plants in the path of Phase One of the multi-use trail the city is building in Brook Run Park.

Barton, a Dunwoody Garden Club member who the DeKalb Federation of Garden Clubs honored with a life membership in the federation in September 2011 for her work at the Donaldson-Bannister House, the Dunwoody Farmhouse and other projects, pulled a wheelbarrow loaded with boxes and a shovel through the forest behind the dog park Saturday morning. She stopped in various places between white stakes she said designated the sides of the trail to dig up clumps of ginger, crane-fly orchids, Christmas fern, hearts a busting, beech trees and snake root.

By her count, she estimates she dug up a thousand plants.

“Look at this beautiful dirt with these beautiful worms!” Barton exclaimed as she slid a shovel through the leaf litter and into the soft, humus-rich earth of the forest floor.  Scooping out a  clump of the native orchids, she said “the bad part is that some things are not up yet.”

Trillium and false Solomon’s seal are among the small natives she said she knows are in the forest but are still dormant.

With sunlight streaming through the trees and casting long shadows from the still-rising sun, Barton said she would like to get as many people as possible to help in the rescue mission. She sent out an e-mail appeal for help Friday evening, Feb. 8.

“Brent [Walker, city parks and recreation director] met with us this morning and gave us the okay to relocate the native plants,” Barton wrote in the email. “You do not need to know anything about nat+ive plants. If you do , you can show us. If you can dig a hole, you are hired. You will need gloves, a small shovel and spade, water and boxes. Wagons would be helpful.”

Peggy Thompson, who attended a recent organizational meeting of the Friends of Brook Run Park, Barbara Pryor and a friend joined Barton in the forest to help with Saturday’s rescue mission.

“Digging was one thing, but hauling plants out was the hardest job,” Barton said Sunday, adding that she was a little sore. Her husband and son, both named Steve, helped her carry the boxes of plants to a safe place in the park where the boxes are stacked to help keep the plants moist.

Barton’s plan is to replant the wildflowers and other natives in the park at a later time. She said Walker recommended an area beside the Community Garden as a  place where the plants could be re-located and remain undisturbed.

Before re-planting begins, time is of the essence. And it’s not on the rescuer’s side.

A group of 25 citizens is suing the city to stop the trail. Last week DeKalb Superior Court Judge Tangela M. Barrie lifted a restraining order that had temporarily halted construction of the trail. A city spokesman said late last week that the city plans to begin construction this month.

Barton noted rain is in the forecast and said Walker told her the rescuers will have to stop their work when the orange fences to prevent silt runoff go up. The fences will designate the area as a construction site and are scheduled to go up this week, Barton said Walker told her.

It is very important to rescue as many native plants as we can as soon as we can, Barton said.  Also, she pointed out, “the ground is wet and the digging is easy.”

“I do not have to be there for anyone to dig them up,” Barton said in the e-mail. “There is a pink stake in the middle of the pathway with a white stake on both sides. Everything between the white stakes can be relocated.”

Anyone interested in helping Barton or wanting more information about the rescue effort can e-mail her at bonniebarton@bellsouth.net.